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Rice cakes are low in calories but not particularly filling.
Cake may not be the first food you think of on a weight-loss diet, but put the word "rice" in front of it and you have a staple food for many dieters. Rice cakes are light and low in calories, making them seem like a good food for dieting. It isn't quite as clear-cut as that, however. There are a number of factors you need to consider before deciding to make rice cakes your go-to dieting snack.
Calorie content is the first thing to look at when picking foods for your diet, because you need to eat fewer calories than you burn to lose weight. Low-calorie foods are the ideal choice. A typical plain rice cake contains just 35 calories. The U.S. Department of Agriculture advises women eat 1,600 to 2,400 calories each day to maintain weight and men advised to eat 2,000 to 3,000 calories each day to maintain weight. You may need slightly less than these numbers to lose weight, but this still means one or two rice cakes would take up a very small proportion of your calorie intake.
The majority of the calories in a rice cake come from carbohydrates, with a standard 9-gram cake containing 7 grams of carbs. While low-carb diets may be popular for losing weight, you still need some in your diet for it to be healthy and rice cakes can supply this. Carbs supply you with energy and can be part of any weight-loss diet. Rice cakes are far lower in total carbohydrates than a serving of rice, pasta or potatoes.
The low calorie count of rice cakes may be a bonus, but they aren't the best weight-loss food. Rice cakes have a very high glycemic index, meaning they digest quickly and spike blood sugar and insulin levels, according to Dr. Mike Roussell. Rice cakes aren't particularly filling either, notes ThatsFit.com, meaning you're unlikely to feel satisfied just eating one or two. Some flavored rice cakes also have added sugars, salt, calories and artificial ingredients.
Choose rice cakes made with brown or whole-grain rice, as these will be more filling. Carbs on their own can make you hungry, so combine rice cakes with a protein source such as ham, low-fat cream cheese with smoked salmon, or a little peanut butter.